Questions Kids Ask About ADHD
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a fairly common mental health concern among children and teenagers today. It is readily treated by medications, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two. Here are some commonly asked questions teens have about ADHD, and their answers.
A: The letters ADD stand for “attention deficit disorder.” Having attention deficit disorder is like needing to wear glasses. It means you have trouble seeing life clearly. You have trouble paying attention. You may like to move around a lot, and this also makes it hard to pay attention to what is going on. Just as it can be annoying for people who wear glasses to have to put on their glasses, it can be annoying to have ADD. But there is nothing wrong with it. It doesn’t mean you are stupid or dumb. Not at all. In fact, lots of really smart kids have ADD, just as lots of really smart kids wear glasses.
A: No. Absolutely not. Lots of very smart people have ADD. The man who invented the light bulb, Thomas Edison, had ADD. He invented many other amazing things besides the light bulb. He’s the greatest inventor in American history.
A: No, he is not right. Having ADD has nothing to do with being smart or stupid. Many very smart people have ADD. Your mom or dad may have ADD. Your teacher may have ADD. The principal of your school may have ADD. Both people who wrote this book have ADD (and one of them has dyslexia, too). Your doctor may have ADD. So may a fireman or a police officer or the person who brings the mail or an airplane pilot or an astronaut. Anyone may have ADD.
Q: I have a friend who takes Ritalin and I don’t like him. If I take Ritalin, will I become just like him?
A: No. Ritalin will not change the basic way you already are. It’s like if you take an aspirin, you don’t necessarily become just like everyone else who has ever taken an aspirin. I’ll bet, in fact, that you and the friend you don’t like have both taken an aspirin at some time. The aspirin didn’t turn you into someone like him, did it? Neither will the Ritalin.
A: I don’t think you should have to take it. I think you and your mom and dad and your doctor should talk to each other until you reach some kind of agreement so nobody is doing anything against their will. Tell your mom the medicine will work better if you take it without being forced to.
But just because I don’t think you should have to take the medicine doesn’t mean I don’t think the medicine can’t help you. Lots of kids have been helped by medicine for ADD. It is very safe, and when it works, it really helps a lot.
A: When it works, the medicine helps you pay attention better than you can now. It helps you focus better, like a pair of eyeglasses. It can make it easier for you to pay attention in school and at home. It can make reading easier. It can make homework go better. It can make school less boring. It can make it easier to get along with your brother or sister, if you have one. It can help you remember things. This is the good the medicine does when it works. If it doesn’t work, you just stop taking it.